Jakarta. Thai star player Chanathip Songkrasin is set to join Japanese football club Consadole Sapporo in July, as the club, which also features Indonesian player Irfan Bachdim, has been promoted to the Japan's premier J-League 1 after winning the J-League 2 this season.
Chanathip, often called Thailand's Lionel Messi, made a series of dazzling appearances for Thailand in the 2016 AFF Cup, playing a central part in helping his team win the trophy after a 2-0 victory over Indonesia in Bangkok. The Muangthong United player was also chosen as the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
“Today, we see a Thai footballer's dream come true,” Muangthong chairman Pongsak Pholanan told reporters, as quoted on the Asian Football Confederation website.
“We’ll have the first Thai player plying his trade in the J-League. We’ve been in contact [with Consadole] for a while. It’s a process that has taken some time because a Thai player has never moved to Japan.
“We had been very concerned about letting Chanathip join them when they were still in the second division since we believed he should play in the Japanese top-flight. Once they won the second division to earn automatic promotion to the J-League, we managed to reach an agreement.”
“He will initially join them on loan for one-and-a-half years with an option to make the deal permanent,” Pongsak said.